Howard Gordon, the longtime executive assistant to the president at SUNY Oswego and a part of the campus family for more than four decades, will speak Dec. 15 at the college's December Commencement.

Gordon retired earlier this year after more than 40 years of employment and countless lives touched at his alma mater. Since his days as a student in the early 1970s to his key role in the President’s Office for more than two decades, Gordon became an integral part of the fabric of the campus.

He received the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education Award for Distinguished Service in 2012. The honor from the 2,000-plus member organization recognized Gordon for enhancing the presence of the association in the higher education community, contributing to the organization's development and overall progress and serving as a role model and mentor to new presidential assistants.

“Howard has been an integral part of the fabric of SUNY Oswego for nearly half a century,” said President Deborah F. Stanley. “He has had a profound effect on our campus and has impacted many of us both personally and professionally. I am confident his Commencement address will lift up and inspire our graduates.”

Gordon earned his bachelor’s degree in history from SUNY Oswego in 1974, followed by a master’s degree in English from Oswego in 1978. His additional honors include the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service and the Oswego Alumni Association Lifetime Award of Merit.

His published writings include "The African in Me: Stories," a collection of nine short stories on black lives and challenges in Upstate New York across the second half of the 20th century.

From starting as an active student in the early ’70s, Gordon joined his alma mater as a counselor in the Office of Special Programs, later becoming assistant dean of arts and sciences then assistant provost for academic affairs.

In 1986, Gordon also helped establish the popular annual African, Latino, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Student Leadership Conference, which now draws hundreds of attendees from multiple colleges. He co-organized the first Return to Oz reunion for alumni of color in 1996.

Gordon's community service included serving as the longtime convener of the local committee for the State Employees Federated Appeal campaign, which partners with the United Way of Oswego County and other local agencies to attract employee donations to worthy causes.

While executive assistant, he also served as the college’s special assistant for social equity and senior Title IX coordinator for many years.

Through it all, Gordon is known as serving as a role model, mentor and voice for countless students, employees and alumni of the college. Campus officials said Gordon frequently shared his gift as a writer, storyteller and a genuine listener who consistently cared about what members of the Oswego family had to say, share or write.

More than 500 students are eligible to take part in December graduation at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, in the Marano Campus Center convocation hall and arena. The ceremonies will broadcast live locally on Spectrum on Channel 96 (Channel 97.3 for those without set-top boxes), as well as online from a link on the college’s homepage the day of Commencement.